Aggrieved at the government's recent request to refrain from using the word "Adivasi", indigenous leader Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma yesterday said the government treated indigenous people as zoo animals and called them by whatever name it liked.
“Bangalees also fit in the ethnic category. Our prime minister is a Bangalee. Now if I say she belongs to a major ethnic group, how would she feel?” he said.
The indigenous leader, commonly known as Santu Larma, said, "How will the indigenous people live if our rights are not established? The governing parties only make promises, but they take such destructive decisions at times that put the lives of the indigenous people in danger.”
Larma was addressing a discussion, “Second International Decade of World's Indigenous Peoples and Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh”, in the National Museum Auditorium, organised by Kapaeeng Foundation.
In a PID handout on August 7, the government asked participants of different programmes, discussions and talk shows on International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples to refrain from using the word "Adivasi" as there is no Adivasi in Bangladesh as per the constitution.
Fazle Hossain Badsha, chief of the parliamentary caucus on indigenous affairs, urged a revision o the constitution, and said, “I will keep trying to press the government to amend the constitution.”
Sadeka Halim, a professor at Dhaka University, said the indigenous people had little achievement in the last two decades. Appreciating the lawmakers who joined the discussion, she said when a legislator addressed them as "Adivasi", it became much more acceptable.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Cultural Forum Sanjeeb Drong said, “We all are humans, and despite this we face discriminations and injustice.”
Lawmakers RAM Obaidul Muktadir Chowdhury and Pir Fazlur Rahman Misbah attended the discussion, among others.